A valid question. I mean, why bother? Why not just take a co-ed clinic? Is there really any difference between learning with just women and learning in a mixed group?
For some women,the answer is no. But for others, it’s a definite yes. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. That said, there’s no denying that men and women have different learning styles. Research shows that women are more supportive and men more competitive in a learning situation. And this carries over to the ski hill, too.
What’s so great about women’s clinics? To find out, I went right to the mother lode of women’s ski information: TheSkiDiva.com forum. Here’s a sampling of what these women had to say:
• I went on an almost all-male skier weekend, which was one of the least nurturing ski experiences I’d ever had. I think it’s Michelle Parker who in this year’s Warren Miller flick says something like, You never get home from the mountain and say, ‘I shouldn’t have gone out today.’ I think some days there are. I got home from the mountain, felt completely deflated, and registered for the women’s clinic because I knew I didn’t suck and wanted to see whether an all-women environment would be different. I went back to the mountain where I felt demoralized. The best parts were that it was a multiday clinic and there were only 3 other women in my group, all close in skill level and goals. I think it was possible to refine us to this group because there were 60 skiers total. I got a confidence boost when I realized what level group I skied in. It was great hearing another woman in my group say that she was scared of something, and then when I saw her ski something, I knew that I could, too. For what it’s worth, I have skied with guys (2 guys and me) who’ve admitted to saying they’re nervous of something, and for me, that’s comforting; it’s like we’re in this together.
• I go every year to at least one of the women’s clinics they have at my local resort. They are fun and it’s great to learn some new tips and have a blast skiing with other women. I like them because they are just a supportive group of skiers and each one of us encourages everyone throughout the lesson – something I certainly don’t get in other types of lessons.
• I have taken both co-ed and women only clinics. I prefer the women only because I too feel that with other women the atmosphere is supportive and not so competitive. Every time I have been in a co-ed class, there has been one guy who thinks he knows more than the instructor. Then the whole goal of the class changes to be a competition between the two and I get lost. In co-ed classes I have been subjected to feedback from a guy in the class when I prefer to get my feedback from the instructor. The pace in a women only clinic meets my needs too. We stop for bathroom breaks as needed and to get warm if it’s really cold. Other women share what they think I am doing well not what I am doing poorly. They encourage me to take steps outside my comfort zone but do not slam me if I should choose not to take that step. And, I laugh more on the lifts.
• I opted for the women-only because it was the only clinic offered in my area (SoCal)! It turned out to be really fantastic. One of my instructors in Utah was very focused on the difference in the center of gravity between men and women, so the main reason I went to the clinic the first time was to hear more on that subject. The best thing about them – I’ve done two – was meeting new ski buddies. I met two wonderful ladies that I’ve stayed in touch with though we haven’t been able to coordinate skiing again yet. There really wasn’t anything I disliked, other than I wished more folks were signed up. I agree with the other posters – there is a relaxed vibe, we have a great time, we can kvetch about skiing at “that time of the month”, etc etc. Plus the clinic organizer makes the most awesome goodie bags EVER. She sent me one while I was recovering from breast cancer surgery (she is also a survivor) that blew me away. Again, that made-a-new-friend thing…love it.
• I took a women’s clinic out of curiosity. Women do have different issues than men….our center of mass is lower, we often can have alignment issues because of our wider hips, etc. I was having trouble getting forward on my skis and it was hindering me on tougher terrain. My instructor was able to get me skiing much better in a short amount of time. She had an intuitive sense of things I was struggling with. The two days I spent with her were priceless. I also got to meet a lot of great women skiers. I also got recruited for the ski school, began working last year, and am returning this year and will be taking my Level 1 exam. Because of a women’s clinic, I got offered a fun part-time job, I made some new friends, and I now can take ski clinics several times a week to improve my skills. I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve also realized there is so much more to learn!
You can read more comments about women’s clinics here. Suffice it to say that the women on TheSkiDiva.com almost universally give them a big thumbs up.
In my next post, I’ll list some of the clinics that are out there. One of them might be just right for you.